Pot shop ban is a step closer
June 20, 2011
Melanie Hicken, Glendale News-Press
After a nearly two-year moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries within city limits, the City Council on Tuesday moved toward enacting a permanent ban of the shops.
Glendale has no dispensaries, which are not allowed under the city's zoning codes, but city officials have said interest has increased in recent years. Hundreds of dispensaries have opened in Los Angeles after the city initially failed to enforce a moratorium it imposed in 2007.
In Glendale, the City Council in 2009 adopted a moratorium to close the city to the shops so city attorneys could review the legal issues associated with an all-out ban. With that moratorium set to expire in September without the option of extending it further, the City Council on Tuesday directed city attorneys to draft a ban to be voted on this summer.
“I'm against dispensaries in Glendale,” Councilman Ara Najarian said. “I wish we could go outside our buffers and create a buffer zone as well.”
Glendale police officials say the ban would help protect the city from vandalism, violent crime and easier illegal drug access for local youth.
“We are very concerned with the proliferation of marijuana coming into the area,” Police Chief Ron DePompa said.
During the moratorium, Glendale officials had hoped a decision by a state appellate court regarding Anaheim's ban on marijuana dispensaries would provide firm legal precedent. Instead, the 4th District Court of Appeal in Santa Ana sent a legal challenge of the city's ban back to a lower court for further review.
Still, city attorneys said Glendale would be on solid legal footing in joining dozens of cities already off limits to the shops.
Statewide advocates, meanwhile, continue to counter that that the bans are illegal and harmful to those who rely on the legal use of medical marijuana.
“[Bans] force patients to either drive very large distances to get their medication or it pushes them into the illicit market,” said Kris Hermes, a spokesman for Oakland-based group Americans for Safe Access. “Both of those options are unacceptable for people who are very ill.”
But Glendale council members said many dispensary users seem to have gamed the system.
“It's working out that pretty much anyone can get the drug,” Mayor Laura Friedman said.
Glendale residents also spoke in favor of a ban.
“We prohibit smoking. Why wouldn't we prohibit marijuana?” said City Hall regular Margaret Hammond. “The police are already shorthanded. Do we need them to have any more problems?”